November 2003 Archives
November 14, 2003
Long time, no update
Hello and sorry for the lack of updates over the past few weeks. The Digital Library Development Lab (where I work at the U of M) has been very busy on a number of projects, and for me this has meant working on SFX implementation. Just an aside, but wouldn't it be fantastic if we could hook up OpenURL functionality into Movable Type? If we could make the creation of OpenURLs easy faculty, staff, and students here at the U could use MT to not only keep bibliographies of articles and books they are using for research, but they could also provide a way for others to find the full text of the citations they are interested in. Just a thought.
As I've mentioned before, I have spent a great deal of time trying to convince my superiors and colleagues of the benefits of the libraries hosting blogs. Some people see me now as little more than a "blog evangelist" and that is all right. My labors have started to show some fruit and some real interest in the technology. The idea of blogs started out in the context of our Undergraduate services initiative as a way of giving undergraduates a voice in this huge University (and doing it through the libraries). There is also interest in the use of blogs in courses as personal journals for students or a way to post papers or course based discussions. The libraries are also interested in developing "communities of interest," an idea pioneered by the University of Virginia (http://infocomm.lib.virginia.edu/). Blogs could play a big role in that effort by giving the members of these communities a way to communicate, share ideas, and find others of like ideas.
The University Archives are also quite enamored with the idea of blogs. According to an archivist in our archives,
"One of the classic and persistent issues that university archivists face is the problem of how to gather adequate documentation of student life and learning, which falls under some of the main functions of the institution. It's easy enough to document student life and learning from the faculty and administrative perspective, and it's not too difficult to document the established student groups (although there are obviously some issues with preserving web sites of student organizations). ..
But I think blogs have MUCH more potential than other kinds of student documentation -- one reason is that they are inherently rich in content, ie, you don't have a blog if you don't have anythign to say, whereas most student organizations have web sites or publications but there's not much to them. I could go on and on, but will leave it at that ... "
I couldn't have said it better myself.
What is the status of the project then? With all of this interest bubbling to the surface I think we will begin again in earnest in December. We still need to perfect our methodology of using our campus x.500 system to authenticate users. I think we are half way there, but only time will tell. Once this issue is solved we can begin to offer our blog hosting services to a select few who will test drive the product. Hopefully that will happen in the Spring semester.